Founder of Eastern Antique Tractor and Equipment Club
For Heber Ross there is not a more comfortable spot than the rigid, conformed metal seat of his restored 1952 tractor.
A long time antique machinery enthusiast, Ross remembers the days when this elder equipment worked the land of Prince Edward Island, providing farmers with horsepower to harvest their crops.
Although once a staple on many Island farms, these powerful machines of yesteryear fell out of favour as new technology brought tractors from basic, open-air work horses to hundred thousand dollar mobile offices, including computers and air conditioning, that also happen to complete farm tasks.
Ross, a Cardigan native who was raised on a farm himself, recalls the old fashioned tractors he drove as a youth with fondness. Several years ago he recognized that these original pieces were quietly fading away, abandoned in overgrown fields, forgotten in barns or many facing a fate far worse, being cashed in as scrap metal taking with them the early mechanical era.
In 2004, Ross alongside a small group of like minded folks decided to start a club that would work to recover and restore this aging equipment. Since then, The Eastern Antique Tractor and Equipment Club’s 40 members have worked to refurbish 150 antique tractors, 40 engines, as well as countless pieces of early farm equipment including planters and combines which they bring out and show the public each year.
Members from across the province form a tight knit community striving towards a common goal, reliving and remembering their childhoods in rural PEI along the way.
“As young boys we used them ourselves and that is the key to wanting to keep them going again,” Ross says of the group. “We all seem to centre around the sound of each individual make, to me I love the sound of a Farmall H, that was the old one that I had down home.”
Setting aside time to work on his personal project, a Farmall Super A, Ross dedicated countless hours to bring it back to its former glory. With two years invested in restoring it, he says he took every nut and bolt off the body, sanded it down to the bare metal before painting the pieces and reassembling the tractor.
Ross says he uses original parts wherever possible to complete the job, hoping to maintain the integrity of the machinery.
Attending monthly meetings of their club, Ross and his peers, with a penchant for aged agricultural propulsion, have a place to swap parts, exchange repair techniques and trade stories.
With so many restored tractors on the Island the members of The Eastern Tractor and Equipment Club act not as collectors but educators, where Ross and the other members take great pride in sharing their refurbished machines with the public, keeping them alive in the minds of many.
One of their most celebrated occasions is the Dundas Plowing Match held each August, where dozens of plowmen take to their tractors and peel back the earth aiming to get the straightest, most precise furrows possible.
For Ross, it is an amazing sight to see the often discounted equipment doing what it was designed to, while people of all ages look on learning about the province’s rural roots.
“Yes, that is the reason we want to have them, because we want to use them not just for paint up and show but we want to be able to get them out there and show the people what our history was.”